Robert Kirby: Don’t kiss off Valentine’s Day. Thank that special person for making you better.

And for helping you get up when you fall — even if it’s off a ladder.

Robert Kirby

Valentine’s Day is almost here. Time to start planning how to show our significant others the appreciation we feel for their presence in our lives.

It might be tough right now. Romantic destinations, dreamy cruises and high-end items — which might not be doable for another year or so — are all problematic in a pandemic.

But if you’re anything like me — and you should thank God if you’re not — you owe your S.O. a lot for making your life better.

I was reminded of this last year, when I fell off a ladder in the garage while balancing a heavy box of books on one shoulder.

I was only a half-second away from suffering a set of bruises, a headache, and a broken wrist when I heard the ladder creak and felt it start to buckle. Instead of sensing terror, I immediately thought of my wife.

A minute (or an hour, I’m not sure) later, I came to — on a pile of yard tools with the box of books and the bent ladder on top of me.

Again, my first thought was of my wife. More specifically, how many times she’d told me that the top of a ladder (roof, tree, fence, etc.) is no place for an old fat man. That’s when terror finally showed up.

I managed to conceal the broken wrist for a couple of weeks, but then the pain got to me and I confessed. Instead of a lecture, she drove me to the hospital in a highly instructive silence.

Whether it’s a relationship that has endured for decades or a year, there comes a point when you should consider how your S.O. has made you a better person. There’s really no reason to be in a relationship if such isn’t the case.

Sex? Please. You can get that just about anywhere these days. Financial support? Meh. The government can help you with that. Companionship? A pet is a decent substitute.

Instead, let’s go with substantive contributions. Like, oh, does your spouse or S.O. make you truly want to be a better person, and, in fact, helps you become one?

Does he or she provide needed balance to your life — and I’m not talking about balance on a ladder. I mean something that makes you feel whole when you’re together — even after many years? Most people require a trusted co-pilot.

Granted, relationships don’t always work out. Some aren’t worth salvaging. And every relationship is different. One thing they all seem to share is the need for nurturing. There are a number of ways I can show my wife that I love her and need her help to give my life meaning.

Spending a lot of money on her is one way. Telling her how much I love her is another. Top of the list right now is staying off ladders.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.